OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - A SWAT situation in Osceola County ended with the arrest of a career criminal, deputies say, but not before he burned down a mobile home in his attempt to escape. The home on Old Hickory Road went up in flames on Thursday afternoon, as officers tried to arrest wanted felon Samuel Fertic on a sexual battery warrant.
Amy Newman shared video with FOX 35 that she captured on her cellphone. It shows the house across the street from hers burning down in the midst of the police stand-off that began around 9 a.m. “The police were in my yard, and they said, 'Can we borrow your yard?' And, I said, 'Yes.' I knew there was a problem with Sam,” said Newman.
The Osceola County Sheriff's Office says they were trying to locate Fertic at his house, when it caught fire. “I could see there was smoke coming from the roof. It just escalated from there,” said Newman.
It started with just a little smoke. Newman continued shooting video, as the flames grew bigger and hotter. “It was very hot. We could feel it from our house,” said Newman. With Fertic still inside, deputies had the home surrounded while firefighters battled the blaze. “I don’t know how someone could live through that. It was really hot and the police officer said he was hiding under the stairs,” said Newman. She believes the home was in flames for at least 45 minutes before Fertic came out. Investigators arrested Fertic the second he came outside.
Newman says she was not surprised to see deputies across the street this morning. “There’s a lot of police presence. They’ve been there several times. He goes to jail and then he comes back out and they’re back over there,” said Fertic.
That’s a bit unsettling for Newman, who has two children. She says before Fertic’s home went up in flames, it had several boarded windows and that she and her kids would see cars and people coming and going all hours of the day and night. She feels she, her neighbors and deputies are on the same page about the outcome of today’s crazy events. “They said the eyesore was gone,” said Newman.
Because of the standoff, Fertic is also now charged with resisting arrest. He was taken to the hospital to get checked out before being taken to jail.
This is not Fertic's first time behind bars. According to court records, in El Paso Texas, Fertic spent 10 years in prison after being convicted on aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charges, stemming from an incident where investigators say Fertic killed his ex-wife.
Hickory Tree Elementary had be placed on lockdown during the incident .